Stepping onstage at Brighton’s Concorde 2, Swim Deep are a completely different beast compared to back in 2013 when they released their debut album, ‘Where the Heaven Are We?’. Long gone are the androgynous poster boys, in their wake lie matured adults. Sonically, during the two year interlude, Swim Deep have grown from pop daydreamers to psychedelic kingpins.
Despite citing Kanye West and Fleetwood Mac as the main influences on new album ‘Mothers’, they mostly sound like a baggy ‘90s throwback, most notably similar Primal Scream’s seminal ‘Screamadelica’. The personification of Swim Deep’s drastic change in direction was in the confused faces of the crowd, almost entirely teenybopper girls (and their boyfriends), during the trippy breakdowns on songs such as the eight-minute album closer Fueiho Boogie.
Between taking sips from small carton milk, lead singer Austin Williams, energetic throughout, announces that there is “nowhere quite like Brighton”. As the band’s frontman, he has developed his stage presence and now shakes maracas and tambourines, with a sense of pointlessness not dissimilar to that of Bez, when he’s not wielding his guitar.
The more tender moments in the 13 song-strong set were the four songs they played from their debut album ‘Where the Heaven…’, and you got the sense that these were merely thrown in as crowd pleasures, as it’s evident, through the band’s body language, that they get a bigger buzz from playing their new experimental songs. Francisco, Honey, and breakout hit King City all evoked the biggest crowd reactions of the night, while the evening’s penultimate track, She Changes the Weather, provided the most romantic, cameras-in-hand moment.
It’s clear through the fact that they finished their set with the lead single from ‘Mothers’, To My Brother, that Swim Deep have the upmost confidence in their new material. And rightly so, To My Brother is easily the best song they’ve ever released (yes, better than King City) and it proves that they’re destined for the bright lights.
It’s a little over-zealous to say that Swim Deep’s reinvention was radical. Although it was unexpected and a major risk, it is still a pop album – it’s just abstract pop instead of dream pop. Their live presence and ‘Mothers’ proves that Swim Deep aren’t just a one trick pony, and it’s interesting to imagine which road they’ll go down next.
By Ryan Lunn